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Ethics roundtable debate: should a sedated dying patient be wakened to say goodbye to family?

Lookup NU author(s): Andrew Batchelor



Intensivists have the potential to maintain vital signs almost indefinitely, but not necessarily the potential to make moribund patients whole. Current ethical and legal mandates push patient autonomy to the forefront of care plans. When patients are incapable of expressing their preferences, surrogates are given proxy. It is unclear how these preferences extend to the very brink of inevitable death. Some say that patients should have the opportunity and authority to direct their death spiral. Others say it would be impossible for them to do so because an inevitable death spiral cannot be effectively palliated. Humane principles dictate they be spared the unrelenting discomfort surrounding death. The present case examines such a patient and the issues surrounding a unique end-of-life decision.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Batchelor A, Jenal L, Kapadia F, Streat S, Whetstine L, Woodcock B

Publication type: Editorial

Publication status: Published

Journal: Critical Care

Year: 2003

Volume: 7

Issue: 5

Pages: 335-338

ISSN (print):

ISSN (electronic): 1466-609X

Publisher: BioMed Central Ltd.


DOI: 10.1186/cc2329